Driver in mall shooting will stay in prison
FARMINGTON — The New Mexico Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction today of the alleged getaway driver in a 2013 shooting that occurred in the parking lot of Animas Valley Mall, according to a press release from the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General.
Luis Ramon Ramirez, 32, was convicted in 2015 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, three counts of child abuse, aggravated assault and shooting at a motor vehicle in connection to his role in the shooting of Johnny "Ben-G" Vialpando. The state Supreme Court vacated one count of shooting at a motor vehicle.
Ramirez allegedly used to his vehicle to block Vialpando's family's SUV into a parking space on April 27, 2013, when his younger brother, Alejandro Ramirez, 26, shot Vialpando multiple times.
Three children and Vialpando's wife were in the SUV when Alejandro Ramirez shot and killed Vialpando at point-blank range.
In his appeal, Luis Ramirez argued that there was not enough evidence to prove he had conspired with his brother in the murder of Vialpando or that he knew three children were in the car. He also argued that the windows were tinted, and two of the children were teenagers, so he may not have known they were children.
Luis Ramirez was initially sentenced to life in prison plus more than 68 years. The state high court remanded the case back to the district court for resentencing. The sentencing hearing has not yet been scheduled.
The New Mexico Supreme Court affirmed Alejandro Ramirez's murder and child abuse convictions last month and remanded his case back to district court for resentencing. A sentencing hearing for Alejandro Ramirez is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. March 1 at Aztec District Court.
“My thoughts and condolences remain with the Vialpando family, and I am thankful for the work of District Attorney Rick Tedrow’s office and the Farmington Police Department which led to this valid conviction,” Attorney General Hector Balderas said in a press release.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at email@example.com.